Goodbye, carpet! Restoring 19th century wooden floorboards

Hi all,

Hope you’re having a nice week. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the weekend!

When we moved into our flat, we knew we wanted to do a lot (if not all) of the repairs ourselves. First up in our DIY show and tell is the hallway transformation. This has been our biggest project so far and was a bit terrifying to start because…

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The before and after.

 

  1. We had no idea what was under the carpet. Original hardwood floors from 1890? Concrete? Botched jobs? Monsters?!
  2. We knew that once the carpet is torn up there is no going back. Our flat hallway would be a semi-construction zone for the next couple weeks!
  3. After doing some research, I realised that tracking down Victorian floorboards is easier said than done. A few were advertised on GumTree, but only a few bits here and there. Would we be able to find enough (if needed) and for how much?
  4. And by far the most nerveracking: this was the first time we’ve ever done something like this. The potential for error was definitely there.

Here’s how the whole thing played out (taking place over five weekends).

First… the moment of truth. We ripped up the carpet to find original hardwood floorboards in pretty good condition – minus a few quick fixes from way back when (seen below).

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Someone way back when opted for a quick fix instead of replacing the full plank of wood…

Overall we were relieved. There were only a few problem areas. The horizontal wooden slab and concrete filler needed to go. A few planks further down needed to be replaced.

To see what we were working with we cleaned up what we could. Pulled out approximately 300 (!!) staples that held in the carpet, as well as the borders that fasten it to the side (the thin red and tan wooden strips).

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Carpet staples. Taking way longer to pull out than I ever imagined…

Cue the repairs! We searched online for planks from around the same era and made of the same type of wood (pine). No luck. It wasn’t until we stumbled across a carpentry shop in south London that we found what we were looking for. It felt like Christmas!

Next steps:

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  1. Cut out and remove broken planks. In a few areas we had to remove part of the adjacent plank too in order to access the joist below the floor (the horizontal frame where wood is securely drilled into). You can see a bit of the joist to the left of the 1986 Tango can we found under the wood!
  2. Cut the new planks into the correct size. Use a drill to nail either end of the planks into the joist.
  3. Sand! 

In addition to our smaller manual sander, we hired a heavy duty one. I’m in no way a sanding professional (I wouldn’t know where to start with the correct, technical terms!), but we used a fine sanding setting to ensure we took off the bare minimum. We wanted a smooth surface – but whilst keeping the character and history.

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Sand, sand, sand

We used the small hand sander for the borders.

Next up – varnish. We wanted the hallway to match the wood floor in our living room – or be as close as possible. We thought we would have to use a stain. We thankfully tested one in a small corner behind a door. It was way too dark. I would strongly suggest applying a small test sample to confirm it’s the shade of your wood floor dreams.

Instead of the stain, we opted for a clear gloss. It was almost perfect. We applied two coats – each took 10 hours to dry.

Finally… five weeks later… taa daa!

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We couldn’t be happier! The wood continues to the steps in our hall. Beyond that, carpet begins (we know there’s concrete underneath so we left the carpet).

So what do we do? Fresh carpet? Or perhaps new wood that hopefully matches the original? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

The first project has been crossed off the list. So, what should be next?

McK

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dose of Victorian home DIY in London

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Can you tell I like plants?

Wow, time really flies by when you’re having fun. I haven’t blogged since January 2018 – and a lot has happened since then.

I’ve given into the travel bug, exploring places far and wide – to Thailand, Santorini, Rome, Prague, Trier, Barcelona, Amsterdam, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Minnesota and around the UK. Attended my first Glastonbury (!!). Started a new role at work. Became a cat mom.

Last but not least… we became homeowners! Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would own a flat in London. I’ve always been one for interiors and DIY projects, but now the decor and furniture fanatic in me is jumping for joy.

We’ve moved into a 1890 ground-floor Victorian flat. With its beautiful character and history comes decades-old quirks that need some love. From restoring original floorboards, maximising storage and finding affordable antiques, there’s always a little (or big!) job to add to the list.

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Hello, home!

That’s what I want to share.

As a first-time buyer, this was my introduction into the big world of home improvement and the problem solving that goes with it. I’m not going to lie, it was a little intimidating to begin with.

My first thought was ‘oh my god, what if something goes wrong and I ruin beautiful original features that have been here for 130 years?!’. Well, there’s always that chance… but that’s where a little bit of research, advice and YouTube comes in.

We’ve done quite a bit so far – so stay tuned.

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Grab me the drill, give me the gardening gloves. Let’s turn this house into a home!

More to come.

McK

Welcome to the bachelorette party! Hen do ideas you need in your life

What’s better… Christmas season or wedding season?!

As we all know from Wedding Crashers, it’s clearly WEDDING SEASON!

I am a bridesmaid for my sister-from-another-mister Penny in just a few short weeks! The bride tribe and I had so much fun organising her hen do (or bachelorette party as us Americans say) – and thought I would pass on some ideas for your future festivities!

I was in charge of decorations because (1) I’m obsessed with glitter and confetti (2) Pinterest is my Bible and (3) I love a good crafty project!

Photo by McKenna

Amazon, Ebay and Paperchase were my go-to places for operation Pen’s Hen! You can find great decorations at inexpensive prices. I first picked out a colour scheme (white, pastel pink and mint) and went from there!

Paper pom poms, balloons, a ‘bride-to-be’ banner and confetti were at the top of my list – they would look perfect in the Oxfordshire cottage we rented for the bride-to be!

Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna

Although there are a few items you need to buy, there’s also so much you can do with objects you already have! I took a few of my picture frames and inserted printed personalised messages into each one including ‘Welcome to Pen’s Hen Party!’ and ‘Sip sip hooray!’ – ideal for a drinks table 🙂

Photo by McKenna

Photos are also a nice way to personalise the space – plus, a great way to reminisce and meet the rest of the bride’s friends!

Photo by McKenna

Since many of the girls were traveling from far and wide – some from outside of the country – I thought hen do ‘survival kits’ would be a nice little touch. Inside were the essentials to get any girl through a weekend away including:

  • A mini bottle of booze
  • Water
  • Mini body lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Tissues
  • Chocolate
  • Photo props (funny glasses, moustaches, lips, etc) – perfect for selfies!
  • Mints

Plus, they looked super cute!

 

Hen do survival kits | Photo by McKenna

Other necessities on the list: a tiara and veil for our beautiful bride! We also dressed her up in a ‘joke’ wedding dress for the evening. She was definitely surprised!

What decorations have been a hit at your parties/hen dos? Happy hen do!

McK x

Living the London life

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Every MDW I’m usually soaking up the sunshine on an East Coast beach with a pina colada in hand, Ray Bans on. Well, not this year!

Since my last post I have hopped across the pond and moved to London! This means Coffee and Cobblestones will be shining a spotlight on the everyday beauty and vibrance of good ol’ Londontown!

Tower Bridge
Photo by McKenna
St Pauls
Photo by McKenna
Chelsea
Photo by McKenna
Big Ben
Photo by McKenna
Carnaby Flowers
Photo by McKenna

 

From boozy brunches to gorgeous flower markets, my goal is to unveil every hidden gem this grand city has to offer 🙂

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My good friend, Carroll

Here’s my snapshot for the day. It’s an important one.

It marks the second time I ventured outside after my two-week-long tonsillectomy recovery and thank goodness I did. It’s a gorgeous day! Yay!

This is Carroll Creek in little, quaint Frederick, MD (my hometown and recently ranked in Livability‘s Top 10 Downtowns of 2014!), which is about 50 miles northwest of DC. You’ll find antique shops, cute boutiques, delectable restaurants with patios and the arts!

Carroll Creek in Frederick, MD on a beautiful April afternoon. | Photo by McKenna
Carroll Creek in Frederick, MD on a beautiful April afternoon. | Photo by McKenna

Come visit and take in this view yourself! 🙂

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Serenity on the lake

The sun didn’t come out today and I didn’t even mind. There’s just something about being on the lake  – it’s calm, serene, picturesque.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a total beach babe, but hanging your feet over the end of a dock perched above still-water is beyond relaxing. Which is why my Saturday was a pleasant one – an afternoon with family, good drinks and the swans 🙂

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A relaxing view from the dock of my cousin’s lakehouse in Fredericksburg, VA.
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Sentimental Saturday – Flashback to a refreshing afternoon on the lake last fall. Love the neighborhood swans who tend to always glide around the dock.

Hope you had a great Saturday – one for the books!

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